Be nice and green, wear it twice if clean (Day 189)…


At first, one might think wearing the same thing twice before washing it is gross. But consider this: I got the idea from Green is Sexy, a blog created by three stylish young women, one of whom is Toronto actress Rachel McAdams (we actually share the same video store) — and if you think she’s gross, there’s something majorly wrong with your neurons.

Besides, I’m not talking about going for a run in a T-shirt on a sweltering hot summer day without deodorant, cooking pots full of onion-garlic curry, smoking three cigars, then putting it on again the next morning. I’m talking about the sweaters you wear in winter over two other layers of clothing, or the jeans you change into to go out for dinner and take off again a few hours later. Basically, it requires a judgment call — take a look at it, take a whiff of it, and make a decision.

Usually, I opt for the when-in-doubt-throw-it-out (in the laundry pile) rule, but from now on I’m going to put some more thought into everything that goes into the washing machine. If it doesn’t stink, it’s good for another day’s wear, or at the very least something to slouch around the house in on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Image courtesy of these dudes.

24 Responses to Be nice and green, wear it twice if clean (Day 189)…

  1. Lori V. says:

    I definitely do this with our clothes… jeans are good for a few days, if not a week, most often. P.J.s are long lasters, too. Shirts? Not so much… what’s the icon for wrinkling up your nose? 😛

  2. Aimee says:

    Jeans are more comfy the second day. 🙂

  3. chile says:

    We do this a lot. I’ve found that I can spot rinse items too that might otherwise be tossed in the laundry bin. If it’s not been too hot or I didn’t work too hard, just washing the pits on a t-shirt and letting it dry overnight salvages it for another day. The primary hurdle I have to overcome is the tendency to spill some food stuff on my top every single day. There is a reason my middle name is NOT Grace.

  4. Theresa says:

    Oh ya, there’s no reason why many clothes can’t be worn a second or third time. I wear jeans at least twice, sometimes even four times before washing them, especially when I’m only wearing them a couple hours at a time. Sweatshirts over my t-shirts are worn at least twice as well as long as I don’t slop something on it first. My bath towel goes a week between washings – I’m clean when I’m using it after all! My office clothes are also worn several times between washings. Still, our household of two does about 5 loads of laundry a week: two darks, a light, a red load and an office clothes load. It would be nice to cut down further. And I really have to step up the line drying.

  5. Hanna says:

    well, I’ve always done that, but it’s more of a lazy thing than a green thing 😛

  6. Mary says:

    I work with a fellow from the Former Soviet Union. He will wear the same clothes every day for a week at a time, and HE NEVER GETS STINKY!! I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s also one of those guys who always looks fresh pressed when the rest of us are completely grungy and wilted.

    In other parts of the world, especially where water is scarce, and people have to carry it to wash clothes by hand, washing after a single wearing is considered sort of gross… I think it depends on the individual, but I will often wear things several times before washing.

    And sweaters, etc. Unless they get stained or stinky they can go alomst a whole season.

  7. chile says:

    Our clothes go through multiple wearings, except underwear and socks. Pits can be freshened up with a quick rinsing in just that area and then hang the shirt to dry overnight. Jeans are good for a number of days unless doing yard work. My problem is that I tend to get food or drink on my clothes every day which sometimes requires real washing not spot cleaning.

  8. Rhett says:

    This is something we do pretty heavily with clothes. I get anywhere from two to four wearings of clothes that I wear to work because I have a desk job. We go through gym clothes at the same rate, but the number of washings is falling dramatically.

    This was actually a natural result of opting to hang our clothes to dry them. It slows the rate of laundry, so we slow the rate at which we produce more laundry to match. 🙂

  9. Melissa says:

    Hmmm… I’m a bit ashamed to say this, but I have been doing this for years and years. Like Hanna though, it was more a lazy thing than a green thing. I’ve accumulated enough underwear to make it a month (or more, sadly) without laundry. Next time someone makes fun of me I’m going to say that my laziness is actually good for the environment.

  10. I’ve always done this with my clothes (NOT underwear) and wondered why others would automatically wash everything just because it had been worn once. Too hard on the clothes to do that anyway. I want my clothes to last a long time. Washing frequently ends up shortening the life of a garment in the long-run. ~~Cindy

  11. emily says:

    If you have a porch or balcony with a laundry line, try hanging up t-shirts that smell a *bit* despite only having been worn once. I began doing this out of laziness, but a bit of fresh air and wind will do a lot to make the t-shirt re-wearable. Same for bras and trousers. I can’t think of a non-gross way to describe this, but I only wash my trousers if they actually smell in the crotch (unless they’re been stained by food). I think that my husband and I together probably only wash laundry once every 3 weeks or so, not including sheets and towels.

  12. chile says:

    Oops, sorry about the double post (and now triple!) I’ve been having trouble with my comments not showing up so I thought my computer had messed up. I’ll go away now. 😉

  13. pat farquharson says:

    getting back to the smelly thing, if you wear eco -friendly deodorants (that dont work) then how boyfriend-friendly will the unwashed shirts be? You will have to depend on a great sense of smell!

  14. Jenna says:

    The rule for me is undies and socks go in the hamper every day, but jeans, sweaters, bras and others usually can go for a bit. (People look at me funny about the bra thing, but at $70 a pop for my rather substantial set… the fewer washes the longer they stay good!)

    One option for the slightly worn? Toss out on the clothes line for a bit. Fresh air and sunshine will have just about anything smelling clean in a few hours. Well… within reason. Hades, I toss our pillows and pillow cases out onto the line almost every morning for a bit just for the fresh smell when we head to bed.

  15. JulieT says:

    We’ve always done this–I got it from my parents, who didn’t want us to waste water. What’s funny is that my four-year-old knows the general rule too. When she sees me toss something down the laundry chute, she asks, “What did you get on it?”

  16. LG Adam says:

    Jenna – just to make you feel better, my girlfriend takes the same approach to bras as you. It surprised me at first but makes sense really.

    I once had a flatmate when I was a student who didn’t wash his jeans for a whole term. I thought he was just being dirty, now I realise he was being eco-friendly!

  17. Bill F says:

    This must make all men environmentalists 😉

    If I wore a different pair of slacks everyday then I’d actually have to own more slacks (or do laundry more often than once a week.) Neither of those are likely to happen.

  18. girlanddog says:

    My boyfriend has a “purgatory rack”, where he hangs shirts that he wore to work once, but that he can wear one more time around the house during the weekend before they need to be washed. Really cuts down on washing!

  19. girlanddog says:

    Oh, and in response to Pat. F’s comment about eco-friendly deodorants not working… I used to think the same thing. Then, I stopped eating meat and my body chemistry changed. I DON’T SMELL ANYMORE and I can happily use eco-friendly deodorants effectively. My boyfriend has been vegetarian for 20 years and he doesn’t wear deodorant… Doesn’t need it! One more reason to go veg…

  20. Christy says:

    I’ll wear jeans and bra for a week. Sweatshirts over a t shirt get worn until they get visibly dirty, they don’t get stinky with a shirt under them. T shirts often get worn 2 days in a row. Work clothes get washed every 3 or 4 wearings, but I only wear work clothes for 5 hours at a time. We are a family of 3 and only do 3 loads of laundry a week.

  21. rosasparks says:

    i guess i’m on a posting rampage. not quite on topic, but, i wanted to add something about clothes cleaning & dry cleaning. met someone once, whose family owned a dry cleaner, & she said that even though a label says you should dry clean an item, you could still probably hand wash it & hang it to dry & it will do just fine.

    also, i’m a dancer & my daughter’s godfather is a costumer. want to clean something without washing it? spitz it with good, very clear, unflavored vodka. it will kill any sweat stains & smells. it’s what he had to do when he had pack wet sweaty dance costumes for tours. i tell you, it works!

  22. Marcie says:

    I have been “rewearing” my clothes for YEARS now! My friend’s think its weird, but honestly I think they are weird for using the washing machine like its a TV or something.
    I can still hear my mother screaming about, “Don’t put that in the dirty clothes!!! ITS NOT DIRTY!!!!”
    Sigh…those good ol’ memories.

  23. the style ‘experts’ at men’s health magazine recommend the same. your post reminded me of this…thought i’d share.

    Create Wear and Tear:
    Wear new jeans as many times as you can stand before washing them. (Just air them out if they get sweaty; brush them off if they’re dirty.) Frequent wear locks in your natural stress marks, which is the look most jeans makers spend a lot of money trying to imitate. This trick works even better on untreated, “raw” denim (test: the indigo comes off on a piece of white paper), which you shouldn’t wash for 9 to 24 months.

    Wash Sparingly:
    Even after they’re broken in, you shouldn’t launder your jeans more than once a month. Over washing loosens the fibers, causing damage.

    Skip the Dryer:
    Smith strongly advises against machine-drying denim — it weakens the fabric and alters the fit. “I hang all my jeans,” he says. “It preserves their shape, allows them to take on a natural aesthetic, and maintains the premium look.” Never machine-dry jeans made with stretch fabric.

  24. bathroom towels should be maintained with a good fabric conditioner so that they will last longer .;.

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